The Heritage Traveller - Books

Travel, History, and exploring British Heritage

Six for the Tolpuddle Martyrs Book Review

Six for the Tolpuddle Martyrs Book Review

In 1834 a group of poor farm workers in the Dorset village of Tolpiddle gathered together to form the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers, with the aim of banding together to bargain for better wages from farm owners.

Tolpiddle (soon to be renamed Tolpuddle so the name didn't offend 19th-century sensibilities) was a rural backwater near Dorchester, an agricultural area dependent on large numbers of labourers, whose backbreaking labour was ill-paid at best and often bordered on starvation wages.


Posted: 2017-08-17
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London Curiosities Book Review

London Curiosities Book Review

Did you know ...?

That's the question I kept asking my wife while reading John Wade's delightful little book 'London Curiosities'. As in 'Did you know there's a traffic bollard in Bankside made from a French cannon captured at the Battle of Trafalgar?', or, 'Did you know there's a network of underground passages and vaults under Camden Market known as the Camden Catacombs?', or one of my favourites, 'Did you know that the official Centre of London is the statue of King Charles I on the south side of Trafalgar Square?".


Posted: 2017-04-11
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The History of Newgate Prison Book Review

The History of Newgate Prison Book Review

In 1740 the public executioner at Newgate Prison gave the corpse of a thief named William Duell to the Royal College of Physicians to dissect. The College had the right to receive 10 corpses per year for medieval research, and their dissections drew large crowds to Barber-Surgeons Hall in Wood Street. Imagine the scene when the 'corpse' came to life on the dissection table. It seems that Duell had survived his hanging, and regained consciousness just in time to avoid being dissected while still alive. He was not re-executed, but sentenced to transportation to America.

The case of the living corpse is just one of the colourful episodes in the history of Newgate Prison that come to life in this delicious book by Caroline Jowett. In this thoroughly researched and colourfully written little book the story of Newgate comes to life.


Posted: 2017-03-06
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A Visitor's Guide to Jane Austen's England Review

A Visitor's Guide to Jane Austen's England Review

The perils of travel in Jane Austen's England were many, from bad roads to highwaymen, but perhaps the most peculiar peril of all occurred in October 1816 when a horse pulling the Exeter mail coach was attacked by an escaped lioness. The passengers travelling in the coach ran into a nearby inn while the coachman and guard tried to hold onto the horses and fight off the lioness. Thankfully the lioness's keeper appeared and recaptured the big cat before she could kill the horses.

That's just one of the wonderful historic vignettes in Sue Wilkes' beautifully written 'A Visitors Guide to Jane Austen's England'.


Posted: 2016-07-08
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A Visitors Guide to Shakespeare's London Review

A Visitors Guide to Shakespeare's London Review

William Shakespeare would be pilloried in the tabloid press today; he seems to have made a habit of avoiding paying his taxes, and in 1599 the authorities came after him.


Posted: 2016-06-08
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Cathedrals for the Curious

Cathedrals for the Curious

I just received a copy of Cathedrals for the Curious, a wonderful new book by Geoffrey Lord, and I thought it deserved mention here. The book is an alphabetical guide to the 'curiosities' of British cathedrals, covering architectural details and oddities. If you've ever wondered what a reredos is, or found yourself bewildered by overly obtuse guidebooks, this is the book for you.


Posted: 2011-12-23
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